Monday, November 24, 2014

Final Thesis Entry

Tomorrow, at 2pm, I will be presenting my final thesis. The golem and my secondary rig, shall be viewed by a panel of 3. The golem was combed over many times, and the animators haven't given any feedback since the previous post. All that is left, is to take that step into the room, and give it all I've got.
Here's to the future.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Updates as of October 13th, 2014

This may be one of, if not the last update relating to the golem. It has recently been given to the Studio X animation department for testing. Going through the notes, there wasn't too much that needed to be changed, and a lot of personal requests for particular things that didn't apply to the golem due to the nature character's design. One thing to not was that many of the animators did comment on the overall complexity of the rig, which is understandable, considering all of the moving components that are contained on it.

I've also had it looked at by someone in the field, and they were impressed by what they say, as I had shown them the test animation I was working on, as well as the calisthenics test. Their only critiques were to have a close up of the facial area for some expression displays, some extreme poses to break the character, and a walk cycle. They did compliment the fact that the vines worked as well as they did and the variety of rig types that are connected to the character.

On the other front, I'll be creating a demo for one of the other characters I rigged during the Studio X program. I do need to ask for an animation sample of the character, but I do not think that there is anything completed relating to it at this time, so I may either have to create a quick piece myself, or as for a WIP animation from them.

I'm also hoping to be allowed to showcase some other characters from a separate project from outside the school. However, the person is unsure on the decision at this time, so it's up in the air if I'll be able to show it as part of my final review reel.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Updates as of September 25, 2014

A few things to show for now. First up is a calisthenics test of the golem's movement:

Secondly is just a personal animation test I'm doing on the side while I wait for animators to test out the current generation of the rig:

Aside from a few adjustments that were made to the back chain system, and the testing, this rig is complete. At most, I'll remake the nCloth file for an animation.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Update as of September 21st, 2014

Here is the current status of the golem. The vine script is finally done. A user can create a vine with controls in any direction they want, as well as adjust the thickness of the vine, allowing for either very thick or very thin poly tubes. Originally, there was an issue where the script would allow multiple copies of the locators used for the path, resulting in the script logging a KeyError out and mucking up the previous setup's system. To counter this, I have the buttons lock upon their usage, and unlock once a system is built. There is also a reset button, which clears out the current system being built. To be extra cautious, I have the script log a KeyError in case the user tries to use the same name again, informing them to enter a new name.

On the rig front, I've made some further modifications to the rig. To start, I have the limbs and body form in a sequence, rather than the bulk of the appendage moving into place. This can allow for more interesting animation possibilities. I've also changed how the IK controls on the arms work, allowing for a smooth transition between local and global space, rather than snapping between them. Below is a rough test animation I did to get a better understanding of how things are working on the rig.

While working on the above animation, I had caught a few things that needed correcting that hadn't been brought to my attention previously. A few tweaks later, and things were in a better state. Unfortunately, one of the animators I had asked to test the rig is no longer able to bug test, so I've set up a meeting with the animation department lead to hopefully find a replacement. If one can't be found, I have another contact that offered to help find an animator to test the rig out.

Less related to the rig and more of the textures and materials, I changed the brightness of the horns. The reason behind this is that I asked someone currently in the field to give some advice on how the current model looked. Ultimately, they recommended I make some changes to the horns, the vines, and the area around the boulder.

The horns were casting too much light on the surface directly next to them, so they recommended I bring down the intensity of the light coming from the horns. They also pointed out that my current light setup for test rendering needed work, So I swapped out the spotlight I was using for a directional light. After about two and a half hours of adjustments, I've come up with the images below. It mostly came down to ramping up a lot of final gather settings and playing with the lighting a bit.

With lighting

Without lighting

New directional light with increased final gather settings.

Friday, September 12, 2014

updates as of September 12th, 2014

At this time, I've corrected a few things that still lingered in the main setup:

  • Due to the blendshape system I used to create the eyes, rotating them in their socket cause them to open slightly when the flower is slightly closed. I've set the blends so that they shut off if the flower is closed slightly, but allow enough leeway so they still bend a little before hitting the cut off point.
  • I've added in controls throughout the small tree on top of the skull. This should allow for some more fine movement in the piece, and can be hidden or displayed via a new attribute on the head control curve.
A new feature I've added in was a more autonomous control setup for the tree stump.

The top directional control above the stump allows for it to shift about, while leaving the roots in their relative place. This control can switch between the local mode, which parents it to the leg joint of the main skeleton, or the roots control, which unlocks a global location control. This is also true for the base of the stump. By adding in a new control to the base, it can switch between the local control of the main skeleton, or a global control for the animator to place where they please.

Another addition to the rig is one at the head.

One of the animators I have testing the rig out requested the various branches have their own controls. I had at first thought of doing this in earlier stages, but had held off on it, thinking that animators would want to avoid as many minor controls. Looking back, it was a foolish decision, so now they've been placed at the various forks in the tree. I will need to update the nCloth file now, however, since the joint count has increased a fair amount.

Elsewhere, on the vine script front, I've made some strides. The curve itself can now match the positions of the joints in the standard version of the vine. I've also worked out how to add in attributes onto script generated controls that aren't just float numbers. Also, thanks to an expression a professor tested in the past when I had the vine scaling issue on the main rig, I've been able to scale up the script vines. It's still not a perfect setup, as paint effects cannot scale in the same way normal geometry does. However, I have found that, by adding in another attribute on the control, an animator can counteract over-scaling when attempting to re-size  the vine. While the control connects to the global scale of the paint effects, the additional attribute increases or decreases the pressureMax attribute on the stroke. This, in turn, can allow the paint effect to stay within a desired parameter of thickness.

The last aspects of the script I need to create are to be able to position the locators anywhere and have the base control be generated there, and the other controls for the rest of the vine to be moved by.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Update as of August 12th, 2014

So a few things to note today. I've completed replacing all of the ground point controls so they stand out against the individual controls of a component. They now consist of two controls: one for the position, and one for the rotation.

I've also replaced the controls on the IK arms and their switches, so that they stand out more.

Same goes for the back vine controls closest to the body. One of the animators I asked to test the rig mentioned that the previous controls got lost in everything, so I vied for a pin shape with a bulky head that stands out away from most of the other controls.

Another error I found was that the left eye wasn't completely working. At some point, the connections were either left incomplete during the time I was preparing them, or a connection was broken amongst the blends during one of the repair sessions I had. none the less, it's been fixed and works just as the right eye does. There was also a nasty issue with the influences in the neck, where the vines, when in place, would overly move with the rotation of the second neck control. Add to this that some of the base points of the neck vines also had some lingering influences that caused them to shift when the neck was moved. This has also been remedied.

The last change is more of an addition. I'm testing out, visually, if adding some smaller vines onto the anchor would be more aesthetically pleasing.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Updates as of July 31st, 2014

So a few updates, but nothing radical.

The golem:

Still trying to figure this golem out overall. Modified the right arm so that it just runs on an SCsolver and some orient constraints, while the left arm uses an RPsolver, but has no real palm or wrist beyond the radius and ulna twist. Also added a new control to the stump, so that it can be offset a bit from the main body, though I'm contemplating making it a separate entity like the stones. Also streamlined the foot rolls into one node.

I'm honestly glad I took a semester away from this thing, because now I can look at it and see what can change to streamline things, as well as fix some readability in the controls.

Studio X

Things are wrapping up, and most everything that was worked on has been cleared. There was a minor hiccup with one file where the skin had been detached and re-bound by someone else on the team, leaving the weights in a poor state due to Maya's lackluster import weights function, but nothing serious enough to cause panic. A short time later, it was fixed, and I proceeded to make other fixes to the rig as a whole.

Beyond these, not much to report on. With the semester coming to a close in the next few days, work will shift back onto the golem with some more refinement and, thanks to a few friends of mine, animation testing.


Dan Rico